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In the 2000s, the teen emo scene found a digital home on MySpace, the first social platform to achieve mass adoption among a youth demographic. Now, as emo re-emerges as a rising Gen Z trend across fashion and music, it has found a new place to thrive on fast-growing social video app TikTok.
A long-form BuzzFeed piece last week drew attention to egirls, a name for girls with a distinctive style and persona, who are becoming increasingly prominent on social platforms popular with teens. An egirl typically has shapes drawn under her eyes such as hearts or tear drops, septum piercings, blusher, dyed hair and dark lips. Her outfits take inspiration from anime, gothic lolita, 90s grunge, and 2000s emo fashion.
Egirls emerged on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, as well as gaming platforms like Twitch and Discord, but they are coming into their own on TikTok. This makes sense, because TikTok is a personality-led platform where they are rewarded for being funny and intelligent, in contrast to Instagram, where looking perfect is the goal. BuzzFeed describes them as “a counter to the polished, Facetuned Instagram influencer.” Egirls pride themselves on their humour as much as their look.
The “e” in egirl doesn’t come from emo but from electronic, as in email. The name egirl started out as a derogatory term for girls who sought the attention of gamer boys online, who were convinced these girls were pretending to share their stereotypically male interests in order to lure them.
While egirls are still parodied in memes on TikTok, and attract disrespectful comments and inappropriate requests from men, they have reappropriated the term in a positive, feminist way. They are proud of the power their coolness and attractiveness gives them. They understand that seeking attention is what every content creator is doing, so any such criticism doesn’t faze them.
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(Main image: @localdadhere on Instagram)